Updated: May 26, 2021
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How to decide between Facebook's 3 major ad Placements
Facebook ads are a delicate balance, where you have to weigh up so many different objectives, ad types, placements, and sizes in order to get the creative just right.
One of the first places to start, well before considering an image or headline, is the platform and device placement.
Placement #1: Desktop News Feed
The standard Desktop, News Feed placement is your first go-to option.
As a general rule, the priority placement here gets you better-than-average conversion odds.
And you get more room to make your case, with a larger image, longer copy, and additional link description area.
The only problem?
It’s competitive. And it’s expensive (relatively speaking).
You’re paying for the extra emphasis. So while that’s great if your goals include engagement or generating leads and sales, it’s not-so-great for discovery and brand awareness.
Placement #2: Desktop Right Column
Right Column ads typically take a back seat to News Feed ones because they’re slightly out-of-sight, out-of-mind.
Not to mention, your ability to captivate with a smaller image and little-to-no text area becomes a little diluted.
If someone already knows who you are and what you have to offer (i.e. you’re retargeting previous website visitors or past customers with custom audiences), your ads can grab their attention at a more cost-effective price point (per impression or click).
Just make sure you’re creating ads specifically for the Right Column placement, and not simply regurgitating and force-feeding News Feed ads into the smaller placement. Otherwise, this will happen:
These ads are from the Right Column, but written and designed for the News Feed.
So good try, but wrong placement.
That means the design objects and copy in the image are too small to be legible. And their ad text headlines and descriptions get truncated, too.
Which then means they end paying more for this ad, overspending and wasting precious ad money because they got only one of the variables wrong.
Placement #3. Mobile
Contra-competitive timing refers to sending email messages, for example, over the weekends when you have less competition to go up against.
Similarly, you can start audience-building on Facebook by specifically targeting mobile devices, where discovery and initial engagement can often be had for much cheaper (than desktop).
According to Massimo from AdEspresso, “Users will discover your product on their phones… then buy it the next day on their desktop.”
Perfect. That’s what we want. Use mobile, awareness-building campaigns to create an audience that we can later target based on previous website visits or Facebook page engagement.
(There is one caveat, however. Facebook’s Lead Ads, which integrate with most major email marketing services, can deliver great conversions on mobile. As always, test for yourself.)
Desktop News Feed: Use for conversions (but can be cost prohibitive for other objectives).
Desktop Right Column: Reserve for retargeting & remarketing to brand-aware people.
Mobile: Use primarily for driving discovery and brand awareness.
Perfect. Now on to the creative and design portion.
Let’s kick things off easy with the single image ad creative.
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Three Major Stepsto Nail a Single-Image Ad Creative
An AdWords ad might take you all of five minutes to create. Throw in a ~25 character headline, add another line or two, and call it a day. Time for happy hour.
Unfortunately, creating Facebook ads might make you miss that golden social hour.
‘Cause you’ve got longer headlines and text to create. Not to mention, selecting the picture-perfect image that will jump off the page for viewers.
It ain’t easy. But it can be easier if you start here
Here’s what an image ad looks like:
Optimized for Placement: Takes advantage of larger image and longer copy on Desktop News Feed.
Strong Value Prop Angle: Answers the nagging question ‘why’ someone should click.
Short & Sweet Headline: Direct and to-the-point in under five words or less.
Visceral, Communicative Image: Bright colors jump out, with realistic view of what this ad is selling.
Evidence of Social Proof: If your peers like it, so will you.
Action-Oriented CTA: Uses a verb to hint at what you’re going to get when you click.
Step #1. Start with a Strong Value Prop Angle
Your Facebook ad creative all starts with the value proposition.
But not for the reason you might think.
Sure, the objective is critical. If you’re going for discovery, something attention-worthy is critical. While if you’re looking for conversions, subtlety and understatement are key.
However there’s something else to consider first.
On Facebook, audience targeting is more important than ad creative.
In other words, better audience targeting with an average ad will almost always outperform an amazing ad creative with average audience targeting.
The reason comes down to Facebook’s Relevance Score, which acts a lot like the AdWords Quality Score; determining, filtering, and suppressing ads with little-to-no relevance to a particular group of people (based largely on their interests).
So your ad’s value prop construction should begin with those oft-mentioned and equally oft-ignored buyer personas.
If you’re gonna waste time A/B testing anything, it should be macro-elements like which messaging appeals to which audiences (and not the stuff you’d immediately rush to, like CTA-copy).
For example, your app, tool, product, or service probably caters to at least two or three different buyer personas. And chances are, they buy or hire for very different reasons.
That’s where you start. Even though your widget offers the same solution (more-or-less), it should come across very differently in both. Startups are obsessed with growth, while agencies care more about saving hands-on management time.
From there, the rest of the ad should begin taking care of itself.
Starting with your angle. If facts tell and stories sell, your angle is the compelling narrative.
The simplest place to start is the old Problem-Agitate-Solution (‘PAS’) copywriting formula.
Problem: Facebook ad creative design is difficult and time consuming.
Agitate: Making simple mistakes can waste hours of prep work and thousands of ad spend.
Solution: This cheat sheet will cut your time in half AND double your ROI.
Here’s how that fits into the hierarchy of a successful ad messaging:
Headline: The big, bold promise you solve for customers.
Supporting Copy: The benefits that add context to your offer, explaining how quickly, how easy, or how effective it is.
CTA: The action (or verb) someone takes to attain the value you’re promising.
Just remember: keep thing short. No one came to read on Facebook. They came to browse, look, and procrastinate.
The Right Column and Mobile placements barely give you a line or two. While the News Feed gives you a little room to work with. The median ad post text is only 14 words long, while the link description is around 18 words, according to one study of 37,000+ Facebook ads.